American Adding Machine, Model 1 or 3

This lever-set printing manual adding machine has an etched steel case painted black. Seven levers that move in circular arcs between slots in the front of the case. The case is painted along the edges of the slots with the digits from 0 to 9 (large and in black and white) and 9 to 0 (small and in red). The large digits are used in addition, the small ones in subtraction. Corresponding to each digit is a corrugation or depression in the cover. Digits are set by placing the index finger in the corresponding depression and raising the lever by the thumb until it is stopped by the finger. They are entered by moving down a metal handle with a wooden knob on the right side. If the red clear key to the left of the levers is pressed down, moving the knob zeros the machine.
The result appears in eight windows above the levers. Another handle, on the left side, zeros digits set incorrectly. The printing mechanism at the back top of the machine prints up to eight digits. This example has no paper tape. There are four rubber feet.
Compare 1986.0894.01. The American adding machine was introduced in 1914, and models 1 and 3 were made previous to October, 1917. By 1924, American adding machines were made by the American Adding Machine Company of Chicago.
The machine is marked on a plaque attached to the front: AMERICAN (/) ADDING MACHINE (/) AMERICAN CAN COMPANY (/) ADDING MACHINE DIVISION (/) CHICAGO, ILL. No. It is also marked there: PAT. AUG. 27, 1912 (/) OTHER PATS. PEND. It is marked under the levers: PAY ROLL DISTRIBUTION - SEE INSTRUCTIONS.
J. H. McCarthy, The American Digest of Business Machines, Chicago: American Exchange Service, 1924, p. 27, 518.
Currently not on view
Object Name
adding machine
date made
American Can Company Adding Machine Division
Physical Description
steel (overall material)
aluminum (overall material)
wood (overall material)
overall: 26.8 cm x 29 cm x 44 cm; 10 9/16 in x 11 13/32 in x 17 5/16 in
place made
United States: Illinois, Chicago
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Science & Mathematics
Adding Machines
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Adding Machines
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Mr. J. Tendler

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